Sunday, September 10, 2017

Peppers a Plenty in September

Ancho and Jalapeño peppers

Sunday, September 10, 2017

My peppers kick into high gear come September.  They seem to love the lower humidity and cooler nights.  Peppers originated in the mountains of Mexico so September into October are perfect weather conditions for peppers.

Nikita hybrid sweet pepper
Surprisingly, even though peppers originated in the tropics and subtropics of South America, peppers don’t like extremely hot weather.  They get sunburned when the temps get into the 90’s consistently.  Their sunburn looks like dark spots on the exposed fruits.  If you can, move them into the shade when temps are extreme.  They won’t croak, but they are stressed during periods of high heat.

Peppers like sulfur, calcium (to protect from blossom end rot), magnesium (helps flowers make fruits), sulfur (makes more nutritious pepper) and phosphorous (for flowering).  You can use the same fertilizer as you do for tomatoes; both encourage healthy fruit growth.

Be careful with the nitrogen.  Nitrogen promotes greenery.  You will end up with beautiful, lush plants with no flowers or fruits.  Also be careful in the type of potting soil you buy if planting in pots to make sure they are not for green leaved plants, but for flowers or vegetables.

Right now, I have Poblano/Ancho peppers, Anaheim pepper, sweet yellow banana pepper, Nikita hybrid sweet pepper,  Pimento peppers, Chipetin, a Sicilian pepper Bocca Rossa, Pizza sweet pepper, Feher Ozon paprika and Healthy sweet pepper growing in pots or in the ground.

The Poblano/Ancho and Anaheim I am drying for chili powder.  The sweet peppers I rough slice the extras and freeze for salsa. The pimentos, I chop and freeze for salads; they stay firm even after frozen.   I have plenty of frozen Jalapeños and Cayennes from last year so didn't plant any this year.  I use them for salsa and some I don’t freeze, but put in apple cider vinegar to ferment for hot sauce for wings for football games.  After about 4 weeks, I put them through the food processor and my hot sauce is ready to use!
Homemade hot sauce
Yum!  Yum!

If you smoke your Jalapeño peppers, you will get Chipotles.  I have smoked some Jalapeños, dried them and ground them up to make Chipotle powder for seasoning dishes.  Or you can add natural smoke flavor to the pepper before drying to get that smoky flavor after dehydrated.

The heat of the pepper is in the ribs and seeds.  If you like spicy, be sure to keep these.  When handling spicy peppers, it is a good idea to wear gloves and be careful to not rub your eyes, nose or mouth until you wash your hands thoroughly.

You can also save these seeds and plant in next year's garden.  Just be sure to let them dry before you put them in an air tight container.  I store my seeds in ziplocks in the frig and they last for years.

Pimento peppers
We grow most of our peppers in pots.  I try to grow enough peppers to last us all winter for chili and salsa.  The hot peppers like Jalapeños and Cayenne seem to do best in pots.  The Pimentos were average producers in the ground.  I have grown them in pots in the past and there doesn’t seem to be much difference in production.  The sweet peppers do well in pots.  The Poblano was grown in the garden and the Anaheim in the ground.  Both produced well.  I grow all my peppers in pots unless I run out of pots, then they go in the ground. 

If you had plants that did extremely well, peppers are perennials.  You can simply bring them inside for the winter.  They will continue to produce through January indoors.  When you put them back outside in the spring, you will be the first on the block with homegrown peppers!  If you decide bringing indoors is too much of a hassle or you don’t have the space, save the seeds from the best fruit of the plant so you can propagate next year.  Hybrids will not grow true to seed so you will either have to overwinter or buy a new plant or seeds in the spring.  You can try the seed, but the offspring typically does not turn out with the same traits as the parent.

A friend shared with me that he thought he was going to give up trying to grow vegetables because all he got was pretty plants with no fruits.  He was growing them in pots.  

My suggestion-don’t give up!  Since you are doing a great job with greenery, go for vegetables that are leafy, like lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, herbs, chard, and other greens.  Now is a great time to replant with these type of plants.

On the other hand, if you get all greenery and no fruit and your plant is in full sun, the most likely culprit is too much nitrogen fertilizer.  This can happen to any fruiting plant.  I fertilize once a month with an organic fertilizer and typically one for tomatoes as they are made with the nutrients fruiting plants need.

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